In 1992 the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission released new rules for automatic garage door openers. Anything manufactured after 1993 was required to include either an electric eye (a pair of sensors that detect an object obstructing the doorway) or a wall-mounted control button that users hold down in order to close the door entirely. Most manufacturers opted for the electric eye method, sometimes referred to as safety sensors.
Safe automatic door openers. All automatic openers must now have an auto-reversing mechanism and photoelectric eyes located near the floor on both sides of the door (see photo). If the door is closing and the beam between the eyes is interrupted, the door will automatically reverse. If the eyes aren’t connected, the door won’t operate. For instructions on how to install a new garage door opener, see How to Install a Garage Door Opener.
Some of the best garage door openers offer special features like a backup power source or a timer that automatically closes the door behind you at a predetermined time. While the door openers we reviewed vary in terms of power, noise and efficiency, they are all effective in the all-important task of letting you come and go with the simple push of a button. Here are the criteria we used to rank the top garage door openers:
Resetting the drums, if needed: If the drums were incorrectly set in their old positions, one must reset both drums in new positions on the shaft. This is complicated by the presence of old dimples in the torsion shaft from previous setting(s), which must be avoided lest they improperly influence the new setting of the drums. To begin this process of resetting the drums, the door must first be lowered and resting level on the floor, the spring(s) must be in the unwound condition with their set-screws loosened, and the lift cables wrapped around the drums. If for some reason the door does not rest level on the floor, such as the floor being uneven, then insert temporary shims between the door bottom and the floor to bring the door up to level. Loosen the set-screws on the drums, and turn the torsion shaft to avoid the old dimples from the set-screws in the old drum position. Tighten the set-screw on the left drum (that is, on your left as you face the door from in the garage), creating a new dimple, and apply tension to its cable with the locking-pliers technique, enough tension to keep the cable taut but not enough to start to move the door up. Attach and wind the cable on the opposite (right) drum by hand until the cable is similarly taut, and set the screw, remembering that tightening the screw will tend to add a bit of extra tension to the cable. Both drums should now be fixed on the torsion shaft, with the cables about equally taut (listen to the sound when you pluck them like a guitar string) and the door still level on the ground. Setting the left drum first, and the right drum second, will allow you to take up any slack in the cable introduced by the left drum rotating slightly with respect to the torsion shaft as you tighten the set screws. This alignment and balance of the cables, drums, and door is critical to smooth operation and proper closing. If you have a single-spring assembly, the distance along the torsion tube from the spring cone to one drum is longer than to the other drum, which allows a bit more twist to one side than the other, and you may have to compensate with the setting of the drums.